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Business of the education committee

UCU Congress 2011: Monday 30 May, 09:30-10:30.

Chapter 7 of the NEC's report to UCU Congress 2011:
UCU331.html
| UCU331.rtf

Motions:

40 - Access and fees
41 - ESOL and adult and community education
42 - Composite: Defence of public post-16 education
43 - Implications of changes in 14-19 education for further and higher education
44 - Scottish HE conference and consultation
L11 - In defence of academic freedom


Access to education (report paragraph 4)

40 Access and fees - National Executive Committee

Congress condemns the government's determination to shift the cost of further, higher and adult education from public funding to individual students and their families.

As well as the tripling of fees in higher education and cuts in teaching funding, we are seeing the imposition of fees and loans throughout further and adult education, affecting many of the most vulnerable groups, including unemployed people and ESOL students. In addition, student teachers and staff are increasingly expected to pay for their own professional training.

This is a profound ideological attack on our public education system and on public services more generally. It will have a devastating impact on the life chances of millions, will reinforce and worsen the deep-seated social inequalities which bedevil our society and will retard rather than promote economic recovery.

Congress instructs the NEC to continue to oppose these policies and to articulate the union's alternative vision of education.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

40A.1 - Women members standing committee

Insert at the end of the penultimate paragraph: 'These cuts threaten to dismantle the hard won gains for women's education that have taken generations to achieve. The price of progress is eternal vigilance. Without vigilance these could be gone within a generation'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress condemns the government's determination to shift the cost of further, higher and adult education from public funding to individual students and their families.

As well as the tripling of fees in higher education and cuts in teaching funding, we are seeing the imposition of fees and loans throughout further and adult education, affecting many of the most vulnerable groups, including unemployed people and ESOL students. In addition, student teachers and staff are increasingly expected to pay for their own professional training.

This is a profound ideological attack on our public education system and on public services more generally. It will have a devastating impact on the life chances of millions, will reinforce and worsen the deep-seated social inequalities which bedevil our society and will retard rather than promote economic recovery. These cuts threaten to dismantle the hard won gains for women's education that have taken generations to achieve. The price of progress is eternal vigilance. Without vigilance these could be gone within a generation.

Congress instructs the NEC to continue to oppose these policies and to articulate the union's alternative vision of education.


41 ESOL and adult and community education - Bradford ACE

Congress condemns the funding cuts to Adult and Community and ESOL provision and calls on Congress and the NEC to send a message to the government and political parties to express our extreme concern at the damage these cuts will inflict on the well-being and cohesion of communities.

In 2006 it was estimated that in London 600,000 people had an ESOL need, elsewhere as many as 50% of adults have entry level ESOL needs.

The funding of ESOL and Adult and Community Education is an essential educational service.

Congress notes the successful campaign  involving staff, students and communities built around the slogan 'Defend ESOL, Defend Education' and urges the NEC to use this model in encouraging similar campaigns and the reformed Defend ESOL campaign alongside other interested parties in the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (CALL) to develop resistance to these devastating cuts locally and nationally.

CARRIED


42 Composite: Defence of public post-16 education - National Executive Committee, University of Dundee

Congress believes

  • fees up to £9,000 are deplorable, deterring able applicants and shrinking provision (68% HE providers set maximum fees (mid-April); average £8,700)
  • these fees, following £2.9 billion cuts to HE budgets, will accelerate financial crises, course closures, and job losses, and restrict access.

Though Government strategy is in tatters, it continues the privatisation drive (Minister Willetts now proposes that private providers take over universities).

Congress welcomes the joint Day of Action with the EIS union in Scotland in Defence of Education held on 10th May. Congress believes working with other unions in education in campaigning and in industrial action is important in defending all of our separate interests.

Congress resolves to continue campaigning to:

  • remove tuition fees, and consequent student loans, entirely, and restore full EMA
  • resist privatisation of HE and FE institutions, course closures and job losses by all possible means, including strike action and occupations.

Congress instructs the NEC: 

  • to produce an up-dated and expanded manifesto for post-16 education, and
  • to organise a conference in the autumn with other education unions, and student bodies on the 'defence of public post-16 education', to include the promotion of the manifesto.

CARRIED


Developments in 14-19 education (report paragraph 14)

43 Implications of changes in 14-19 education for further and higher education - National Executive Committee

Congress notes with apprehension the government's policies for 14 -19 education and their implications for further and higher education, including:

  1. making A-Levels more rigorous while not giving FE Colleges resources to respond
  2. narrowing of the curriculum through the 'EBac'
  3. abolition of EMA
  4. the Wolf Review of vocational education
  5. the cuts in resources to the 14-19 entitlement and enrichment, badly affecting tutorial provision in particular
  6. the continuing fragmentation and privatisation of 14-19 education with the continuing push towards academies, free schools, 16-18 academies and UTCs.

The results of all these policies will lead to a much more stratified 14-19 education, with young people being divided into rigid pathways and the temporary needs of business being given priority over education and lower numbers of students able to go to university.

Congress calls on NEC to continue to campaign with other unions and organisations against these policies.

CARRIED


Education policy in the devolved nations (report paragraph 16)

44 Scottish HE conference and consultation - UCU Scotland

Congress notes that:

  1. the Future of Scottish Higher Education conference which took place on 22 February was a great success and well received by those attending
  2. the video from the conference is available online from the UCU Scotland web pages
  3. the conference and submissions from UCU have a made a major impact on the Scottish Government response to the consultation on higher education
  4. the Cabinet Secretary has called for greater democracy, openness and transparency in the decision making process of universities in his statement to Parliament on 16 March and further he has stated that the election of Principals is worth considering.

Congress congratulates UCU Scotland for organising the conference and for its influence on Scottish Government policy.

44A.1 University of Aberdeen

In the last sentence between 'Congress' and 'congratulates', insert '(a)'. Delete full stop and replace it with a semi-colon.

Add 'and (b) calls on Education Committee and NEC to publicise this initiative to all UK branches and encourage meetings or seminars on the outcomes of the conference and its significance for integrating qualitative work in the devolved nations on future perspectives with overall UK strategy.'

CARRIED


L11 In defence of academic freedom

This week Liverpool University withdrew a course delivered to students in the medical faculty as a result of a complaint made by one student objecting to a talk reporting on medical issues in Palestine.

Liverpool UCU has called for the re-instatement of the Healthy Inclusions course and for the university to be robust in defending the freedom of its staff to select the content and delivery of course material without interference.

The university has refused to reinstate the course and signalled their intention to incorporate the course into mainstream teaching in the interests of ensuring 'balance'.

Congress condemns the decision to withdraw the course, and calls on the NEC to:

  • write to the university
  • publicise the issue nationally and encourage a letter writing campaign
  • consider how the growing number of threats to academic freedom can be effectively resisted in the current climate driving market-led provision.

CARRIED

Last updated: 30 May 2011